Wednesday, December 31, 2014

why I can't sleep

This morning I awakened too early & couldn't go back to sleep. As I lie in my bed wishing I could shut my mind off, I soon realized I couldn't. After all, it's New Year's Eve Day (always a special day in my childhood memories). Every year, we had a party with my cousins. So much fun! My cousin always spent the night, & it was her birthday (double the fun)!

We played games, ate fancy food (like pizza), & celebrated the New Year. At what we thought was midnight, my brother (the Boy Scout) would open the front door, step outside, & play Taps on his bugle. His little sister thought this was pretty cool. It wasn't til I was in my 40's that I realized the joke was on me. Every year my folks set the clocks ahead. I thought it was midnight, but it was really only 9pm. I'm still stunned by this!

So… along came a marriage, settling down, having babies, & actually making a few friends. Before we knew it, we had a new New Year's tradition (celebrating with our new friends & their children). How did this happen? Our once new friends are now our long time friends. My Goodness… we've been spending New Year's Eve together for almost 25 years (when we are all well & in town).

One year in particular sticks out in my mind. It was the year 2 of our little ones did the Macarena in their skivvies. They were only 3 or 4. When I think about it, I still can't help but chuckle. Their big sisters put them up to it. There were the "Dolly" years. She'd sit by the fire with us in our old den. She was always a part of the party. She'd greet each person as they came to the door & even take them for a ride on her back. Oh…I miss her!

So, as I close out this blog, it's important that I get to my point. Yesterday, my husband & I were reminiscing about New Year's past (since our children were little). My point, & he nodded in agreement. These friends that we gather with; they have loved us unconditionally. They have been there for us through thick & thin. I think that's why I can't go back to sleep. I'm too excited about spending New Year's with them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Why even bother?

New Year's Eve is only a few days away. It's a good time to reflect, a time to self-evaluate & think about a goal for the coming year. There are always the resolutions about losing poundage. Sometimes, they are about exercise & health (always good goals). In my youth leader days, I used to have the youth write & sign their resolutions. We would place them under lock & key. A year later, we would open them, & see if we met our goals. More likely, if we even remembered what they were.

I want my resolution to be meaningful. I want it to be unforgettable. I want it to be something I think about daily & truly try to achieve. Otherwise, why even bother? I'm all about good health, but I want my resolution to be about refining my heart. Is there something I need to change? Well…yes, of course. If my answer were no, I wouldn't be telling the truth.

Actually, I have a multitude of choices. So which one will I choose? Sometimes, changing an outward practice, perhaps a new discipline, can help change us on the inside? Just food for thought. I have something in my life many people don't have. Well, truly a lot of things (some others would want & some I couldn't pay others to take). Just a bit of humor & truth. But… what I'm speaking of here is TIME.

A friend once told me, "We all have the same amount of time; it's what we choose to do with it." That really is the truth. I don't think I have always chosen well. I have wasted time in so many ways. Sometime it's been through worry. Other times, shopping. Sometimes, I spin my wheels. I avoid making a healthy meal because I get caught up in other things. I love to be spontaneous, to fly by the seat of my pants, & sometimes it bites me in the seat of my pants.

So, this year, 2015, I want to make better use of my time. Less wheel spinning, less shopping, healthier cooking, fewer excuses. I'm not gonna lie. This will be hard for me. I think I will try to read a few books. I can't wait to get back to my Small Group Ladies. I am going to try to be more responsible but still a kid at heart. I don't want to lose my spontaneity. It's a gift from my mom. I just want to try harder to do the right thing & not the "Susie" thing.

Next year, I will go back & read this. I will let you know how I did. Love you all & Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We had no choice.

Today marks the one year anniversary of someone who is dear to our family. A year ago, she made her mark, as she was born amongst some mighty odds. Her mama had been hospitalized for 3 weeks (I think). Her due date was January 16th. We were told that each day in the womb equaled 3 days outside the womb. Even though our strongest inclinations were to meet this tiny lil being, we new that each day, we needed one more day.

So… we painfully took one day at a time. Really, we had no choice. Each day we gave to God; each day we trusted in Him. Really, that is all we could do. Her mama suffered. I suffered with her. Her Daddy overcame his fears that night. He was there; he didn't miss a beat. The unknowns were great, but the Hope in our hearts was far greater.

Finally, somewhere in the middle of the night, a babe was born. Barely 5 pounds, she was the most beautiful & delicate lil being I've ever known. Her tiny ears were paper thin; she had no eye lashes. Over the next few months, I  recall hearing her mother say, "Lily, you are just too little." Hard times awaited us, but we would do our best to meet whatever came our way. Really, what else could we do?

Her Mama went home from the hospital without her Lil Sweetie Pie. It's not supposed to be that way. Each day we trusted in her medical team. Each day we prayed & we prayed. We had no other option. We cried our tears. We knew our fears (but we spent lil time expressing them). Our hearts were heavy, but our Hope was greater.

As Lily made her way through the thresh hold of her home one very cold & snowy day, we were overjoyed, but we were overwhelmed. Our fears were great, but we had her home. Her Mama took one moment at a time. She met each & every lil need, & Lily began to flourish. Daddy was in love. He called her "Sweets" & too this day, I always smile when I hear him say, "She's so pretty."

So one year later, our beautiful story has only gotten sweeter. She is spunky & loves to play. Measuring spoons are her favorite. She babbles. The sound of her baby voice is so precious to my ears. She has a big scream for such a tiny lil being, but really, it's that gusto that helped bring her through each difficult day. I love her more than words. Today, I celebrate Lily.

Friday, December 26, 2014

So… How was your Christmas?

Today I was out & about for a little bit. Everywhere I went, people seemed to ask me, "So…how was your Christmas?" Hmmnnnn… I hemmed & hawed a little (trying to decide how truthful I should be). Yep, that's right. I've had worse Christmases, & I've certainly had better.

My husband ran a fever of 102 all day. My daughter is sick.  Our gathering which was postponed from the week before has again been postponed. If it doesn't happen soon, I'm afraid we will just deliver our gifts & call it a day.

So with much preparation & great anticipation on my end, Christmas has come & gone, but it never really came this year. Nope… it didn't seem like Christmas at all. We made it to our Christmas Eve service. I enjoyed every song, every child, the reading of the Christmas Story, & communion. Yes… that felt like Christmas.

My house has been decorated since mid November. I have religiously lit my candles each evening & enjoyed the twinkle of each light. I baked cookies galore & thought over & over how thankful I am for my new kitchen. My presents were wrapped so long ago, I cannot remember what lies under the pretty paper.

Sometimes, the best laid plans are for naught. It feels a little empty, but whether or not our plans occur doesn't change the fact that a Savior was born. My unkept plans need not rob me of the HOPE I have every day of the year because of Christmas Day. My plans went astray (just as they oftentimes do). It's okay. Jesus is still King of my heart.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We are still together...

It's Christmas Eve Day, & who has time to read this blog? And… why do I have time to write this blog? Truth is… I just have a few Christmas thoughts I'd like to share. I think some of what is on my mind must surely have to do with my age. For some reason, my mind keeps going back to my childhood Christmases…

This night was always magical. I loved going to the evening church service complete with candle light. Afterwards, we always went to a family gathering with foods I didn't recognize. I loved this gathering, but I was always worried that I needed to get honme to get to sleep so Santa would come.

Finally, we would get home. We could open one gift. Bingo. It was always a nightgown! I couldn't wait to put it on & have my Daddy tuck me into bed. Yes… he checked under my bed, in my closet, brought me a glass of milk, said prayers… It was our nightly ritual, complete with a kiss on my forehead.

I'd lie in my bed & listen to whatever conversation I could hear going on in the living room which was right outside my bedroom door. Eventually, I would drift off to sleep only to awaken at 5am to see what Santa had brought. It was always a doll, & I was always happy beyond measure. My brothers & I opened our gifts exclaiming with all the wonderment one house could hold. We were blessed, & we felt it.

Sometimes we counted oranges & apples. Hmmnnn…. was Santa real? I think in our hearts, we had it all figured out long before we ever admitted. We wanted to believe. After all, if we didn't believe, he might not come anymore. So now, we are all grown up. Our parents reside in Heaven. Our children our grown.

We have our memories. Yes, our precious memories. We have our faith. We want to believe. We do believe. Only, our belief has gone from Santa to our Savior, our Hope for all mankind. From one small family, 3 small families have come. Our children have grown. Some of them have babes of their own. We are no longer physically together on Christmas morn, but in our hearts, we have our precious memories. Yes… we are still together.

Friday, December 19, 2014

I cling...

As Christmas Day nears, I have so many emotions, I can hardly rest. I have become keenly aware of so many people who are finding it hard to grab the part of Christ mas that matters most. In fact, He is the only part that truly matters. To say He is the reason for the season sounds cliche…

Please don't get me wrong. I love Christmastime more than anyone I know. If I just sat in my home each  night & stared at my tree, I would be content. I find meaning in that tree. I have my manger scene displayed on my mantle. That says it all for me. That's enough.

But…then I take a glance outside my door (& even inside my own door), & I realize (without a doubt), that if we didn't have this part of Christ mas that matters, we would have nothing at all. If this Baby Jesus weren't born in a cave so long ago, we would not have HOPE. Without the HOPE that He brings, I would surely shrivel up & die.

Life is hard, & that's all I know. Yesterday, I looked into the eyes of a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I know that fear. It's is so real to me, even 3 years later, my heart cried. I felt sick. I recently visited with my 68 pound friend who's body has been ravaged by cancer & treatment. My heart breaks. She is dear to my soul.

I have friends who's teens struggle. Again, my heart hurts. That pain is unbearable. I am consciously aware of those who have so little. When I visited Chicago, I read the signs displayed by the suffering. I must admit, it was daunting. It was hard for me to eat my meal & not think about those starving souls, so broken in every way.

The clock keeps ticking, the suffering continue to suffer, the homeless continue to live in the cold (alone) with maybe a blanket or two. Kind hearted souls are tormented by their own thoughts. Hopelessness surrounds us. It swallows us up & tries to dissolve the ONLY HOPE we have.

As I walk through this life. I face my trials. Some of them make me want to crawl in a hole & isolate myself. As I look outside my door, the trials of those I know are even more overwhelming than my own. And… what about the souls who suffer around the world that I don't even know?

So… I bake my cookies. I lovingly decorate each one. I bye gifts for those I love. Yes…I get carried away. I pray for those who hurt. I absorb the Christmas music. I walk amongst the hustle & bustle. It does put a little ginger in my step. I cling to my Christ. He is the ONLY HOPE I know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ho Ho Ho or NO NO NO

Some say HoHoHo while other Mommies & Daddies say NoNoNo. Some enjoy the Santa tradition while others justify why they don't partake. And then, of course, some of us must justify why we lie to our children. Will they believe anything we say if we tell them there is a Santa Claus?

I grew up believing in Santa Claus. I continued this tradition with my own children. I have no regrets. When a child reaches the double digits, it might be time to level with them. After all, we don't want them to be made fun of for believing, & we don't really want them to hear the truth from somebody else's unbelieving child.

Here's the cold hard facts… to each his own. There is no wrong or right. Do what you want with your family & don't bother pushing your values on anyone else just to make yourself feel better or seem a little bit holier than the rest of us. On the other side, don't feel you need to explain why you believe in Santa Claus. It's a personal choice.

I read a blog today about lying to your children being more difficult than stuffing Santa down a chimney. I'm not even a mom of young chidden anymore; yet, it ruffled my feathers. It's an age old argument. It will never change. Your choice may depend on the temperament of your child. If believing in Santa causes too much anxiety, it may be better to be honest.

On the other hand, childhood is fleeting. Children grow up faster than they used to. 10 is the new 12. If I can hang onto something magical, see a little extra excitement in the air, why not? I love the Nativity Story more than any other story on earth. When my children reached the double digits, I never said, "Guess what, the Nativity story is make-believe (like I did with Santa)..." No, it's not… It's a timeless truth. That precious story lives on forever… & ever...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

along came Lily...

Last night I was looking through some photos that one of my youngest daughter's professors took when he visited what was left of our home. After the tornado, people (professors & students) from her Community Art Department at her College came to help. They did something quite amazing…

In helping, they also salvaged a few remains. With permission, they took some of them back to school, & created beautiful tables out of doors, centerpieces, shadow boxes, & so many intricate & creative displays. They then had a celebration. We were the guests of honor. It was all about restoration. It was joyful. It gave my mind a break from all the turmoil at the time. It amazed me that my door became a table.

As I was looking through these photos, I noticed that my middle daughter was pregnant. FLASHBACK… one year ago, Lily had not yet come into this world. What followed only weeks after the tornado, was a fight for her little life (& my daughter's). Little did we know the day those photos were taken, we were about to embark on another adventure.

Toxemia took its toll. My daughter was hospitalized, & Lily was born at least 3 weeks early. Just a few days after her birth, she was put on a monitor & remained in the hospital while my daughter ( a new mommy went home). To say the least, this was yet another difficult time for all of us. We did the only thing we could; we took one day at a time.

So… almost 12 months later, we have this blonde & blue eyed little replica of her daddy. She has such a happy personality. She lights up more than any lil girl I've ever known. She babbles in her own precious language. She explores my home in her walker. I cannot imagine the miles those tiny little feet travel in a few hours.

Getting Lily here was one of the most difficult journeys Gram has had to face. Seeing my daughter struggle & then seeing her newborn baby compromised was almost more than a mother/grandmother could handle. BUT… amidst the cold frigid weather, the heavy snows, the ice & winds, God brought forth this little angel. She is my lil snuggle bunny. A day with Lily warms Grams heart better than sunshine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

to Gram's house we go...

So  what was the high light of our Thanksgiving? I'm not really sure. Life is complex, & we have much for which we are grateful (especially this year). Last year, we spent Thanksgiving with our dear friends. It was so much fun & at a time when fun wasn't happening much. We were without a home, & so many decisions lay ahead of us.

Today (one year later), we celebrate in our new home. To say I love my new home is an understatement. I haven't said much about it because I realize so many others are still without a home. One reason I couldn't wait to rebuild was because I had 2 grand babies that I wanted to enjoy in my own home. I didn't want to miss their crawling, walking, & cuteness. God has blessed this decision…

This morning my daughter texted me that her 18 month old son squealed every time she told him they were going to Gram's.  When ever he comes over, I squat down, put my arms out, & he runs to hug me.   My heart melts like butter each time. Our lil grand daughter turned 11 months today. She loves to grab my hair & laugh. She doesn't like to let go. She runs all over our house in her walker. Both of the babies love to explore Gram's house.

We had a simple meal (pretty traditional). Everyone contributed. That only added to the fun. We had a fruit plate that looked like a turkey. Our pumpkin pie came complete with leaves made of crust adorning the top of it. I was overcome with thankfulness to have us all together in our new home. It's all decorated for Christmas. We still have many rubber maids to sort through, some of them complete with pink fluffy insulation.

I gave a toast, a toast to each couple present… to Eddie & Heidi (in their new life together), to Anthony & Kristen (what a joy to see 2 people so happy), to Cody, Haley, & Lily (our precious lil grand daughter), to Josh, Jamie, & Jaxon (our adorable lil grandson), & to us (a life time together). Even though we chuckled as we clicked our glasses, my words have never been more heartfelt & sincere. Love each of you dearly.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I don't know what survived until...

Today we hit the basement again. We found lots of treasures. A few of them will be wrapped up for Christmas & given to their rightful owners. We found my cookie cutters.  Each tells its own lil story. I can see my round kitchen table filled with Christmas cut outs, & 3 lil girls staring at them with big eyes. My favorite cut out was always Santa.

We pitched, we cleaned, we sorted. That's how it goes, & we still have much more to do. We reminisced. I am sure we sounded like 2 chatter boxes. I don't think we ever shut up. Then… we went to lunch & even did a lil shopping. Would you like to know the best find of the day?

It was an 8 by 10 of my "Dolly." She was our Black Lab. She filled the childhood chapter of our kid's lives. She was smart & beautiful. She had her own personality. We had several nick names for her. She had a particular look about her that we called the side winder. She would turn her head side ways & stare. All you could see were the whites of her eyes. Our beloved dog.

In the photo, she is wearing a big red polka dot bow. I believe our daughter gave us this photo as a gift one Christmas. It even says Santa's Lil  Helper on it. As we sorted, it occurred to me that you can tell what's important to a person by the things they have collected over the years. Apparently, I could never have enough pairs of glasses or enough candles. True, I like them both, but I certainly didn't need enough candles to last a life time or enough glasses for 25 women.

I don't dread my basement days. Getting through this stuff actually brings a sense of relief. Finding treasures is fun. Usually, the find is followed by a delightful squeal. Well… it's been a year. I don't know what survived until I pull the lid off the rubber maid & look. Sometimes it's overwhelming; sometimes it's fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Memorial Walk

Last night was a brrrrzy cold night. I almost didn't go. I took a fall about an hour before. I was unnerved. I spaced out & took a wrong turn on the way there. I was late. My mind was in another place. It was so cold! I went to buy a warm hat & some under leggings. That's when I fell in the parking lot, & that's why I was late.

So, on that cold dark blustery night, I turned myself around. I asked myself. Should I go? I'll freeze. I might fall again. It will be dark & cold. My daughter called to see if I was still coming. She was there with her boyfriend & her dear friend. Should I go? My precious daughter is there. It will be memorable. I will freeze. My knee hurts. I'm unnerved. So many excuses…

I kept going. I told her I would just keep driving, & if I got there in time, I would join her. She waited for me. I got there. I even parked up close as I drove over 2 bright yellow cement barriers. I made it. I walked in, & there she was. So caring. On the phone, she said she would hold on to me. She said it was a night to help others if ever there were such a night.

We took photos. We drank hot chocolate as we walked. We walked arm in arm. The wind chill gave me a temporary headache. Snow blew across our path. We were at the end of the line. My daughter was worried we were slowing down the vehicles who were following us. It felt like we were going at a good pace.

We laughed along the way. We remembered (but not so much in a painful way). No, we remembered in a meaningful way while making a new memory at the same time. It was blustery. It was cold. The hot chocolate was amazing. The service was filled with beauty & meaning.  We felt rugged. 2 things stick out in my mind: my daughter & my friends. Thank you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who knew?

A few days ago, my friend & I were in my basement. I was frantically searching through my rubber maids. I was looking for my Christmas decorations. Suddenly, it hit me like a bolt of lightening. I decorated my house the day before the tornado. My Christmas decorations were destroyed. My friend looked up & said, "I could have helped you figure that one out."

That's just a day in my life. I go about my business only to be struck by bolts of lightening that cause me to recount my losses. My losses are great, but my treasures are more. A year later we are in a new home. I walk into my house, & I feel as though I am outside. I love being close to nature. It soothes my soul.

We have grieved. We have felt emotion after emotion. Many of them have been painful & ugly. We have felt paralyzed at times. We could only focus on the next step, or we became overwhelmed. Sometimes we grieved together, but more often we grieved apart from each other. I think that's difficult on a marriage. It causes a disconnect, a gap.

Our friends have rescued us on more than one occasion. Who knew that the day our home blew away would also be the beginning of an assault on our sanity? Who knew the demons we would fight? Who knew the things we would see in each other? Who knew how our worst traits would become exaggerated? Who knew our resistance would be so low?… Who knew?

Nothing that day caught our Heavenly Father off guard. Nothing that happened in the days to follow surprised Him. For tomorrow is as close as yesterday for Him. He knew, & He allowed such an awful thing to happen. Why? I don't know. I only know that it does not cause me to doubt His love for me.

We live in a cursed world. We are not robots. We have a choice to love. We have a choice to have faith or not. We have a choice to persevere. We have a choice to believe that all things work for good for those who love the Lord & are called according to His purpose. I believe.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, there was a young boy that grew up in Southern Illinois. I am told he was a remarkable young man even though I did not meet him until he was in his early thirties. When he was old enough to be of help, he left his family to live with his uncle in a very small town. There, he farmed. He grew up to be a High School math teacher, but as the saying goes…"You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."

This man grew the best tomatoes Northern Illinois had ever tasted. He loved to water his grass. He was a fisherman. I recall him catching 73 perch one morning on the the pier on Lake Michigan. He loved to spend his summer mornings catching fish & cleaning his catch. That meant a fish fry was to be had, hush puppies & all!

He loved nature. He was a great camper even though he & his wife never agreed on a camp site. Still… he never gave up. He always bought her turtle necks for Christmas despite the fact that she couldn't wear them. Occasionally, he bought her a night gown instead. Her cousin helped him do his shopping. She was not easy to please in the gift department. Still… he never quit trying.

Every Christmas, he put up a real Christmas tree, lights & all. Of course, she was never pleased with the tree he chose. Still… he put up a tree every year. He loved to chop wood. He was a servant. He upheld the dignity of those who suffered. He was not afraid to state his opinion.

He loved a good election. He made signs galore & posted them in every yard that gave permission. He took care of the elderly. He loved to cook French Toast.  Potato soup was his specialty. He made home made ice-cream. I sat on the top of the ice-cream maker while he turned the crank. He loved a good oyster stew too. He had a passion for his pancake breakfast at church. He was the life of the party every Easter morn.

My favorite memory… he tucked me into bed each night with a glass of milk. He checked in my closet & under my bed every night to make sure no one was lurking there. He assured me I would not have a bad dream or die before I wake. He kissed my forehead & told me he loved me each & every night. He was my DadderBoy. He was gone to soon from this earth, but in my heart he'll always be.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I can only speak for myself

Today I had a deep discussion with a friend. We were talking about pain. My friend thinks that cancer & tornados are worse than emotional pain. As a Survivor of all 3… emotional pain is the worst for me. I hate cancer. Walking that journey is a fine line of fight/surrender. You do all you can, & then you let God. Your health ultimately lies in His hands. There is a randomness to the whole ordeal. You can do every thing that's recommended, & still lose your life to cancer. You can make poor choices & still thrive. Sometimes it doesn't make any sense.

As for tornados… well, a home can be replaced. It's unnerving. The overwhelming feeling of loss of control looms over your head. What's the plan? You don't have a plan. Havoc surrounds you. Your belongings are scattered across the world. You don't really know where or how to begin. So, you begin somewhere, & then you take your next step, & the next, & the next. One step at a time. Try not to focus on more than the next step.

Emotional pain is hardest for me because it hurts the most. It is a loss of control if you are the beneficiary of emotional wounds. You can do what you can, but sometimes the ball lies in the other persons' court, & all you can do is hope. Usually, emotional pain seems unnecessary to me. It makes me physically ill. It consumes my mind. It breaks my heart.

I can only speak for myself.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Today is bittersweet. I'll start with the sweet. Worship in church this morning really touched my heart. It's quite simple; I love my church. I don't love it because it's home to me now. I don't love it because people have cared for me & nurtured me. I don't love it because the sermons are meaningful. I never leave untouched. I love my church because it doesn't judge people. It doesn't condemn. You don't have to follow rules to belong. You belong first.

Today our church honored volunteers with a pig roast. We were invited for a few small things that we do. The weather was surreal. I got to visit with people I rarely have a chance to get to know. The sun warmed the earth as we sat there enjoying fellowship. The food was delicious. We even had s'mores.

It was kind of an old fashioned picnic. Sometimes I think going back to the simple things in life are the best. I couldn't help but remember the church picnics I attended as a child. Deja vu. There were hula hoops & gunny sack races, a hayride, & bright colored leaves laced the ground. The sky was radiant. The people were genuine. The pastors were servants.

As we drove away, my spirit felt refreshed. The more I know my church, the more I love it. My husband & I closed down the Ice-Cream Shack with one last visit since it closes today for the season. Again, it felt surreal. We were engulfed with color. The smell in the air was comforting. The sunset was vibrant. I just wanted to soak it all in…

Interwoven into this day of beauty was sadness. My dear friend is in the hospital. She has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She is very sick. Her pain is out of control. Her last hope of chemo has pushed her over her edge. She has endured so much. My heart is heavy for her. In fact, I think it is broken. It's sad to journey through almost 11 years of life  (your children's' childhood) & then continue to suffer so immensely.

Emotional pain & physical pain are a part of the breast cancer journey. I don't know anyone who has suffered as much as this dear friend. I don't know anyone who has remained more faithful. I don't know anyone who has done more to prepare her own heart & mind & the hearts & minds of her children for this suffering. None the less, she suffers. Her loved ones suffer in anguish too. No matter how much preparation you do, you still suffer.

The author of a book that has taught me much says that we would be foolish not to prepare for suffering. I believe he is right, but I also believe that preparation does nothing to diminish ones suffering. It anchors you through the storm. It maintains your dignity. It's all about how you walk this journey. But… even someone who has given it all to her Lord & Savior continues to suffer beyond what we know. I have come to a new realization today. I finally get it. We must let go of all of our fears because only the grace of God can get us through the unbearable. Please pray for her.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Rotten Truth

As October transitions into November, we end the month with Halloween (a day that always tickles my fancy). I love to see kids all dressed up in their costumes. It's that look in their eye that gets me every time. It says something words cannot say. It's a feeling only a child can feel. It's as if they are hiding a great big wonderful secret…

This week is a busy week. The day before Halloween is our Pink Promise Celebration. It's a day to honor breast cancer survivors. I have worn a lot of pink this month. I've painted my nails pink. I've bought a few things in the name of breast cancer. I've celebrated my own pinkness in my own way.

But… here's the truth (the rotten truth). As I write this blog, I have 3 dear friends suffering with stage 4 cancer. Today I watched some testimonials on The Breast Cancer Awareness web sight. They brought tears to my eyes. Yesterday, someone I didn't know died from breast cancer. We had many mutual friends. My heart grieves even though I didn't know her.

I work very hard at not allowing this terrible disease to bring me down. But, some days, try as I might, it hits me square in the face. The severity of it overwhelms me, & knowing my own reality sends a jolt right through my heart. As I see my own dear friends suffer, I cry inside. As I see their strength, their beauty, I can only admire them. I learn from them.

I converse with myself. I imagine their pain. I find it unbearable. They have school age children. There is no sense of fairness here. They have endured much, yet their suffering continues. It's truly an act of surrender. Each of them has an incredible faith. It is their faith that sustains them. I believe it's what makes each of them so beautiful. It preserves their dignity.

Their faith gives them grace. This grace allows them to be a light house to others who can only wonder how they cope with the severity & reality of their health. Having young children changes the whole picture. Each of them longs for one more day to spend with their children. Nothing is taken for granted. As this month of pink draws to a close, the horrors of this disease never ends for these courageous women. Just one more day, that's all they ask...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What does that even mean?

It's been a long time since I have blogged. The Spirit has to move me, & It hasn't lately. I love to blog, & I miss it when I don't, but truly, I hope that my blog is a vehicle in which others can be reached for Christ. I have stuff in my life just like every body else. My stuff isn't tidy & nice, & sometimes, it takes a lot of strength to live my life. However, it could always be worse. That's for sure.

The truth is… we live in a cursed world. We will never be whole until we are fully healed in Heaven if we know Christ. Until then, we suffer. Some say, we should embrace suffering. What does that even mean? How do you embrace something awful? I have learned to embrace my own suffering, but I fully realize there are limits to what I can embrace. I've yet to reach those limits, & selfishly, I hope I never do. They are things that are too sacred, too precious to my soul, to even mention.

My take on what it means is this… As we go through life, we will be dealt some blows. Those blows can come in many forms: emotional wounds, physical wounds, job loss, health issues, & the list is never ending. Some of these blows turn our world inside out & upside down. They may even cause us to lose our ability to cope or to function.

I've had a few of those blows in my life. I've sunk into my couch & cried big tears. The stress has made me physically ill at times. The worry has stripped me of my ability to live. Truly, I've been paralyzed with anxiety at times. I can feel it when it blows in. My body goes into this overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I feel nauseated. My shoulders ache. My heart beats rapidly. Really, all I can do at this point is cry.

Why am I sharing this? Because it's more common than people realize. I want people to know that there is help available if they are willing to receive. It takes humility & losing your sense of pride to admit you have reached the bottom of your barrel. It also takes that feeling of being in over your head to realize you need help. It's a sick place to be, but it doesn't have to be forever. Seeing it as temporary helps. Maybe it's a cycle; hard to break on our own. However, I believe in second chances. I believe in change.

So here's how I embrace my suffering. I go to my Lord & Savior & cry. I ask Him to help me see straight. I seek the council of friends & professionals. I take medicine for my anxiety. I ask God to use my suffering to help another person. I try to live transparently. Sometimes things are too painful to reveal. Forgive me when I haven't been 100% real or have lead you to believe I have it all together. I don't.

In embracing my suffering, I give it ALL to God. I trust that he has my ultimate good at heart (even if it doesn't feel that way). I know that because I love Him, others will be helped through my sorrow. I believe life is simply about refining our hearts, fitting us for Heaven. In my view, each of my heartaches allows God to do just that. I wouldn't choose my troubles, but if God has allowed them, I trust Him. He knows better than I do. He knows the future. He has the whole picture.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Yes, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My guess is that some people are sick of hearing about it. There's a lot of hype & a lot of pink. Stores are filled with pink… pink socks, pink shoes, pink purses, pink jammies, swimsuits, lipstick, jewelry, clothing, & the list goes on. What isn't pink? What can I say? Pink is dear to my heart. It's my favorite color. It cheers me up. It's part of my identity. I even have a pink ribbon tattoo. Yay me!

Pink is in the news. It's on the Today Show. It's on the front of magazine covers. It's posted all over Facebook. Pink celebrations are taking place. The Sisterhood of Pink Survivors unites. It's like being a part of a club. Our bonds are lasting. We are each others' cheer leaders. We are prayer warriors. We are Survivors. We are strong. We are not who we were prior to our diagnosis (nor do we want to be). Our faiths have taken on new meaning. Our perspectives are different. Our purposes have changed. We don't take one day, not even one moment for granted. Nope, every day is a gift (even the sad ones).

Pink so much more than the undiagnosed might understand. It's a cheerful way to acknowledge a cause that keeps haunting our world. It's sobering. It's heartbreaking. It represents strength & support, but at the same time, it represents pain, a pain so deep that only a Survivor can understand. That's not to say other causes don't have the same effect. They do.

The pain of Breast Cancer (depending on its staging) never really goes away. At least not in my 3 years as a Survivor. The pain is present on so many levels. It effects our self image, our relationships, our outlook. Its treatments have lasting side effects. These side effects serve as constant reminders of our journey. Some of us have gained weight. Some of us have become disfigured through surgeries & radiation. We have scars. Scars from reconstruction, scars from skin grafts, scars from our ports, scars on our hearts. We have been liposuctioned on more than one occasion, had our precious parts rebuilt & then tweaked numerous times (never to be the same).

Some of us have lost parts of our ability to remember. We've had increased neuropathy. Our security has been completely ripped out from beneath us. And… if that isn't enough, life just keeps happening. We are not exempt from other tragedies. Our loved ones still pass away. We do not escape tornados. We suffer with our friends who now have Metastatic Breast Cancer. We ask, "Why Lord?" We ask, "Why not?" We live with Survivors guilt. We are pained for our sisters who suffer & don't seem to get better. Selfishly, we never forget that it could be us.

So… if a little bit of Pink (or sometimes a lot) brings awareness to our cause, we apologize if others are sick o f hearing about it. However, if you or your loved one should ever receive this diagnosis, it goes unsaid, we are here for you. We will rally around you, share our stories, love you, encourage you, & hold your hand. We will have a bond before we ever meet. All the research that Pink has cultivated will be a part of your future & may just be what saves your life. It did mine.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I am intricate.

The more I walk this journey called Life, the more I realize how complex our world is, the more I realize what an intricate masterpiece I am. I've been pondering much lately & noticing God at work in so many facets of my life. Recently, I realized that He will close a door if I cannot see clearly to make the right decision. I am so thankful for a God who overrides me. I've also become keenly aware of His provision for me. I am convinced He cares about each tear I cry.

The benefits of being one of His sheep can never be matched by living a life without Him. When my world is shaken, He is there. When I can't see straight, He leads me. If I seek, I find Him. It's as simple as that. A few days ago, I was having a rough moment, & He placed just the right person in my path at just the right time. No…I don't believe in coincidence. Last week, I had an appointment, & the words of my friend echoed through my head & kept me in the right place at the right time.

So as I think through these past 3 or 4 years of my life, I see myself as an intricate masterpiece. I am a masterpiece created by God & a culmination of all of the people who have poured into me. I sat in awe today as I began to recount all of the people who have been a part of my life. I have had so many people paint a little piece of their artwork on my heart. My body has been reconstructed. I am no more perfect than the sum of those who have helped me.

I haven't always heard the words I wanted to hear. I haven't always been treated how I wanted to be treated. My body is scarred. My heart is scarred. BUT the amazing part of all of this is that in spite of all of my imperfections & the imperfections of those around me, I do not feel abandoned. No, I feel just the opposite. I feel empowered & ready to face a new tomorrow. I feel loved. I feel convicted. I feel whole. I feel thankful.

I am overwhelmed by God. I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know He holds me. I know He's got me, & I got Him. Whatever comes my way, He walks with me. He carries me, & nothing will come my way unless He allows it. If He allows it, He will give me what I need to get through it. I don't know why I am the recipient of a God whose peace truly  surpasses all understanding. I don't know why I hear His voice or see His provision. I just know I do.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well…that's just the best!

Yesterday, something magical happened. It's really just the small things in life that are so meaningful. Finally, My daughter & I got to take her sweet baby girl for photos. We had to cancel our first appointment due to Lily being sick. So… this time, we were determined to get the job done. Lily had been uncharacteristically fussy in the morning. As we drove, we wondered if she would be up to our much awaited day.

Lily seemed to enjoy every minute except for her outfit changes. She protested them a bit. Each snap shot made me laugh. Her lil face lit up, & the photographer somehow captured the many beautiful expressions of my grand daughter. She had her photo taken in a little bath tub (just her size).  She sat in a wooden crate in the meadow. She rocked in a little rocker. The possibilities seemed endless.

At the end, she even posed with Gram. Somehow, she managed to smile for every photo. She laughed. She showed her 2 bottom teeth. She flashed her baby blues. Yes… can you tell? I had the most fun of all! This precious lil girl who started out so tiny & fragile has come so far. Her personality is so happy & adoring. Being around her brightens my world.

On the way home, our lil model slept like a baby. So tired from her photo shoot. As we pulled into her driveway, she was deep in slumberland. Her mommy & I just sat in the car & let her sleep. We talked & we talked. We reminisced about the past. So many memories. Just her mama & I sharing life. How could I be so blessed? As history repeats itself in some ways, it has its own little twists & turns. Watching my daughter be a mama. Well… that's just the best! I love you, Haley!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

my defining moment...

Yesterday, as I was headed toward my defining moment, I called a dear survivor friend & chatted all the way there (a 45 minute drive). I was in good company; it kept my mind off of my impending possibilities. As we chatted, I said, "Well you know, this could be a defining moment." Yes… the balance often truly hangs on the tumor marker test.

We both agreed that being cancer survivors has made us painfully aware of how quickly our lives can change (in the blink of an eye). I saw my doctor, & I couldn't have asked for a more positive appointment. Heartfelt thanks to all who pray for me. It's moments like these, I know I am being carried by prayers. Psychologically, it's just too  much for the human heart to handle the unknowns of what could be the inevitable. It isn't the good news so much that makes me know people are praying for me. No, it's the peace in my heart & the grace with which I prepare myself to accept whatever I am given.

Some things are out of my hands. I can do my part, but ultimately my outcome rests in His hand. As my hubby & I went out to celebrate, I couldn't help but think how different things would be if I had been given the opposite news. His response, "I don't really think I could have handled that right now." Who ever can? That is one part of the cancer journey that doesn't really go away (at least not in the first few years). I suppose, 10 years down the road, it might.

I am thankful for this journey in so many ways. The abundance of treasures found on this journey are innumerable. I cannot even begin to count them. It's a God walk for sure, & that is the most cherished part for me. It's a perspective changer. I define problems differently than prior to cancer. It's a live-life- to-the full practice because I never take a day for granted (even the ones that are disheartening). One of the gifts I am most thankful for is that it has bled over into other areas of my life. I am able to transfer my Trust from this walk of life to other walks of life…

If I couldn't trust in God for His ultimate good for me, I would live differently. If I couldn't trust that He has the whole picture, I would not live with the same peace. If I didn't believe that the Lord gives & the Lord takes, I would feel more pressured to be perfect. I do my best, but ultimately I know my days are numbered (as are everyone's) according to His plan. If I couldn't rest assured that one day there will be no more suffering & no more tears, I would live without hope. If it were easy, I wouldn't depend on Him.

I am not saying I got it all right. Believe me I don't, & some moments in my life are full of grief & fear. It's a daily (sometimes hourly discipline) of walking my head through these truths. It's moving them from my head to my heart or vice versa. It's a conscious effort to claim them & live accordingly. It's not an easy walk. I no longer expect it to get easier. No… because the growth comes through the struggles.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

more thoughts on parenting...

As I spend time in my car, I tend to process many thoughts that run intermittently through my head. Of course, one blog cannot do justice to a lifetime of parenting 3 daughters. I thought I better add a few thoughts that I believe can make a difference in a child's contentment as an adult. I didn't get everything right. Maybe in some peoples' eyes, I totally missed the boat. Regardless of what others think, here's what I got…

TIME  Society & Satan would love for us to believe that it's about quality time, not quantity. WRONG! Children need your time throughout their whole childhood; yes, even more when they are teen agers. After all, if you are not present, how can you have quality time? ACCOUNTABILITY cannot be overrated. A parent always needs to know where their children are & who they are with. They need someone to talk to after school, someone to consistently care about their day. They need an adult present when they host a party. Alcohol should not be an option for a teen party.

PROCESSING all that society, the internet, the media, & peers throw at a  person is not possible for any human being. For a young person, it's confusing & unbearable. A teen's tendency is to turn to their peers to gage where they stand. Are they acceptable? Do they fit in? Are they worthy? Sometimes they just want to figure it out on their own. Problem is… they are incapable.

If your child finds you snooping, you will receive an unimaginable backlash. However, never assume that your teen is okay. Eavesdropping, checking text messages, being a friend on Facebook… All of these things will likely make your teen resent you. However, you have got to keep a close eye on them because our society is full of cutting, suecide, drugs, alcohol, sex, peer pressure, etc. Really, there is nothing new under the sun, but parents are working more, & theses issues are constantly in their child's face.

BUSY BUSY BUSY  Again, Society & Satan shout at us that we need to do this & that. We need well rounded children. How else will that happen if we don't work to afford all of this "mess" & run ourselves ragged? Children need "at home" time, homework time, family time. They need to learn to entertain themselves without the internet constantly at their fingertips. They need to play outside & run barefoot. They need to just "hang out" with friends, neighbors, cousins. They become agitated & programed when they have no down time or not enough time to do the things they have to do. They need to learn to interact as human beings without a text message or Facebook. Talking & playing accomplishes this. DON'T CONSTANTLY RUSH THEM.

Do not be unnecessarily STRICT. It is sure to backfire. The resentment it causes in your children will cause them to sneak around behind your back. Keep the communication lines open. They need to know they can come to you with anything (even if it's ugly). Do not OVER SHELTER/OVERPROTECT your children. Loosen the apron strings a little at a time & reign them back in as needed. Then loosen them again. Go to the ends of the earth for your child. Walk through life with them. As they become interested in PG movies, watch them with them if they are old enough. Talk about the movie afterwards. Process the message.  DON'T SHARE THINGS WITH THEM that they are too young to understand or bear.

LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. FORGIVE THEM. DON'T OVER PUNISH THEM. DONT'T PURPOSELY EMBARRASS THEM. You will do that without even trying. DON'T CHORE THEM TO DEATH. Have a SENSE of HUMOR. LIGHTEN UP. LAUGH! If they become a target for BULLYING, find a fresh start. DON'T BUY CLOTHES unless you both agree on them. Spend more time LISTENING than talking. CRY with them when they hurt. NURTURE THEM. Put your own SMARTPHONE away. DON'T OVER REACT. Lastly, if you have a HEART ISSUE, get yourself fixed so you can be "there" for them. Childhood is fleeting. SAVOR each moment (the good & the bad). There will be both.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

my 2 cents on parenting

Today a young friend made dinner for my husband & me. It's a long story, so I will save the reason why for a more appropriate time. The best part of the delicious dinner was visiting with her. When I see her mothering her little daughter, it always melts my heart. Her lil girl is precious, & she is such a good mama.

She asked me today to write a book about what I'd "do over" as a parent. Funny that a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on parenting. I never published it. A few days later, I deleted it. I just didn't feel qualified to give my 2 cents on parenting. But, since my darling friend asked me, I am going to attempt to share a few thoughts…

I have 3 daughters, & I have a few things I'd do differently for each of them if I could go back in time. #1  I would seek professional counseling much sooner for things that were over my head. #2 I would cook healthy meals & strive to have a pleasant dinner hour. #3  I might try home schooling. #4  I would not encourage having a boyfriend at 11 or 12 years old. #5  I would stay out of the dating department & not live through my children.

My husband always said they did not need to be the best at anything. If they made the team or the play that was enough. He was absolutely right. I hear parents say all the time that once their children start something, they are not allowed to quit until the season is over. They need to learn commitment. My take is different… My child's self worth is more important to me than the worth of my dime. If they are miserable, & the activity is not necessary, I did & still would allow them to quit. Of course, I would encourage them to stick with it, but when I knew the situation was breaking their heart, I said enough.

Driving my kids & their friends anywhere was an honor & the best source of information I ever received. I greeted each friend with a smile, turned up the music, & tuned in my ears (to their conversation). Oh… the things I learned. Having kids over was also an honor. I encouraged friendship & loved their friends. I still do! I think it's best to let them & their friends work out their differences. I never regretted not getting involved. Sometimes I did get involved, & I cannot say much good ever came from that.

I always tried to validate my kids. If a teacher was mean, I did not pretend the teacher was nice. I helped my children cope with their hardships. We discussed every aspect of life. I wanted to be their resource. I didn't want them learning certain things from their peers first. We believed in Santa. We trick-or-treated. Birthdays were special, & the Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy left nice little surprises. I tried to discipline out of love, not anger. I was a "softie" for the most part, & they laughed at me when I got mad.

I loved each one of them in their own way, & I still do. I did not play favorites, & I still don't. I believed in honest feedback on both ends. I apologized when I needed to. I made some big mistakes. I regret. I cried tears of joy & sadness for them. I still do. We always had a cat & a dog. We still do. I learned to love their music (even when it got on my last nerve). We went out for ice cream to celebrate happy moments or just for fun. I always forgave them. I still do. I never over punished. They were the greatest privilege of my life. They still are.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

He loves you even when you're sad.

I have some loved ones who are sad for different reasons (health, break up, change, work, circumstances, unknowns, etc). Last night, as one of these dear friends bared a hurting soul to me, I could only think of one thing to say. "I love you even when you are sad."

Today it occurred to me that God loves us even when we are sad. He loves us when we are hurtful, when we are angry, even when we don't forgive, or are mean & thoughtless. He loves us when we hurt, when we are dishonest, when we are jealous, & unthankful. He loves us when we are judgmental, when we are confused, arrogant, & ugly. When we get our priorities mixed up, He still loves us.

His love is unconditional, & we don't have to have our lives in perfect order to be loved by Him. His love does not hinge on our goodness. It does not depend on our "getting it right." His love knows the depth of each soul, & still He loves us. He knows our shortcomings better than we know ourselves. Yet, He still loves us.

He knows we are great pretenders. He knows we put our best foot forward for others to see, & sometimes even lead double lives. He knows we become easily depressed & overcome with anxiety. He knows we suffer from discontentment. He knows we lack faith, & we don't always make the selfless decision. Sometimes, we even have idols. We take His name in vain.

How can He love us when we cannot seem to love ourselves or each other? His love never fails. It is not self seeking. It doesn't boast. His love puts us first. His love forgives, bears all things. His love  cannot be fathomed by our human minds.  His mercies endure forever...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We can kick, scream, & pout.

Today I reach a small goal. It is likely significant only to me. It doesn't even really matter. I'm just stunned that it took me this long. This Blog is #365. When I first began blogging, it was in February 2012 after my double mastectomy. I was so unsure of life at the time. Truth is… I still am. As I began blogging, I found healing. My cancer counselor encouraged me to continue. It was good for me.

Through this Blog, My Journey, I have found release. I have been able to organize my thoughts & better understand my feelings. I have had a few harsh lessons. I've learned only to blog my story, not somebody else's. I've received a few words through the grapevine from people who thought I overstepped my bounds. To them, I apologize. I never meant to grieve you, & I have tried to be conscious of that & not repeat the offense.

My Blog has caused anxiety for some that I love, so I have tried to write about "things" other than cancer (although sometimes I cannot avoid the subject). After all, it is the reason I began this Blog. Originally, I wrote for my daughters. I still do. I want this Blog to be a memoir for them. I lost my Mama's diary in the tornado. That is my saddest, most irreplaceable lost. I wanted my daughter's to have these words in case I wasn't here to say them.

However, I am here. I am more alive than ever. I have a fresh perspective which I love. I never take a day for granted (even the ugly ones). I'm here, & I get to share life with the people I love. I have a new home (since my old one blew away with all my belongings). I have new belongings, & I am thankful for what I have. My beloved pets survived, & they comfort me daily.

Lately I have been dwelling on change. It seems to be a part of many facets of my life. I have had to change, & I have watched others change & not change. I guess the better way to say that is to say resist change. When the wind literally blew in (as it did with Cancer & the Tornado), it gave me no choice but to change.

I never would have chosen these changes on my own. Remember, this Blog is The Journey No One Would Choose. If I could rewind my life 3 years & was offered options…. Well, it's probably best that I didn't have  a choice. To say I would choose this journey is to say that I would choose to see the people I love most suffer. That seems selfish & awful. To say I trust God for His greater good, & that I have found treasures I never would have known, is the truth. I am blessed beyond measure.

One thing I've learned. Change is good. It is a sign of life. It offers a new perspective. Before cancer, I liked my rut. I didn't like change. I didn't embrace it. I let it cause me anxiety, & I allowed my fears to dictate my life. I still have fears, but I find strength in facing them. It is empowering. Not easy, but necessary…

When the winds blow, we can resist. We can kick, scream, & pout. We can hold on to what we've always known to be right, or we can open our minds, self-evaluate, let go of our baggage, & breathe in life. We have 1 life to live, & we can only live our life.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What is a friend?

Today, I choose to write about friendship. Through the losses I have experienced over the last 4 years… I just want to take a moment to thank all of those who took time to comfort me in some small or big way. As most of you know, 4 years ago, I lost a youth group that I loved & a church home of 25 years. Many of those people are still my dear friends. I will always love them.

As we began our search for a new church, we found one in a nearby town. We chose this church for more than one reason, but one very important part of this decision was because I made a new friend, & every week she smiled her beautiful smile, hugged me, & remembered my name. Simply put, I knew when I walked in the door, somebody cared about me.

As we began to call our new church "Home," something unforeseen & awful happened. I was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 3 Breast Cancer. The bottom dropped out of my world, & I felt extremely vulnerable & alone (in spite of the fact that my family loved me dearly & was always near to me). So much emotion to process. To say I was overwhelmed does not do my state of mind justice.

So… a once active youth leader was now a Survivor. I kept asking myself, "When do I become a Survivor? Is it while I'm still fighting for my life or is it 15 months down the road when my treatments end?" I think I can accurately say now that the day I was diagnosed, I became a Survivor. I shut people out. I couldn't talk to even my closest friends for months. I cannot describe the ache in my heart.

As I walked this walk, Jesus became my best friend. I know this sounds cliche, but it is the truth. This needed to happen long before cancer. I just chose to live with a false security prior to my diagnosis. As I journeyed on, my mom's health & mind declined. I knew I was losing her, but I could only be thankful because, I knew in Heaven, she would be wholly healed (body, mind, & soul). I miss her, but as I wrote in another blog, I just wish I could spend an hour with her on a special bench by the lake, to hear all about her life in Heaven. It makes me smile to think of her with no more tears or suffering.

3 months after my beloved mother went to Heaven, a tornado took my Home Sweet Home. We realized our losses slowly. Insurance took a while, & things we thought could be salvaged were unsalvageable. Pretty much, a total loss. I have never really grieved this immense loss as most people. I don't know why, & sometimes that bothers me. I love my new home. Going to the old home sight makes me feel claustrophobic. I don't really understand myself.

So 9 months out from our most recent tragedy & 4 years out from the first of many to follow, I look back, & I see friends & family who cared for me. I see a God who drew me close to Him. It's almost surreal but not so much any  more. I would like to close this blog with a small tribute to my friends…

A friend is not a user. A friend is genuine. A friend listens to your same story each time it is told. A friend forgives. A friend does not pretend. A friend gives you distance. A friend draws close when you are ready. A friend walks with you. A friend bears your secrets. A friend comforts. A friend tells the truth even when it hurts. A friend cries tears for you & laughs with you. A friend doesn't judge. A friend prays for you. A friend may hurt you (but hopefully not intentionally). Sometimes a friend needs forgiveness. Thank you Friends for being my friend. I love you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Daniel & Ashleigh

Yesterday moved me. My nephew got married. I love watching people grow up & become kind hearted adults. When  you get to be my middle age, that is one of the joys in life… watching people grow up. One of the heartaches in life is watching the people who don't grow up. Some people stay put & refuse to grow up. I suspect it's due to some unresolved hurt. It's sad. It takes its toll on the others who go down with them. Sometimes they are innocent family members.

True love puts the other person first. It's simple, but it goes against human nature. Consistently putting the other person first (whether it's a girlfriend, a spouse, a child, or a friend)  is sacrificial. Christ sacrificed for us, & I believe that is why we are drawn to sacrifice for each other. It's unselfish. We are selfish. It involves denying our instant gratification & holding out for a long term goal. It's Christlike.

Yesterday, my nephew confidently married the young woman of his dreams. Their vows were heartfelt & beautiful. Their joy was inexplicable. Such a happy wedding day. The siblings of the bride & groom only added to the joy. The toast form the Matron of Honor was sweet. She said always have fun because fun memories are easy to make. Simple but true. The Best Man (my nephew) gave a meaningful tribute to his brother. As I listened to his words, I could picture the brothers growing up. It was precious. I only wish my mom could have witnessed this day by my side. She would have cried sweet tears.

As I watch people around me self destruct, my heart weeps. I want to help them, but I am so limited. After all, it is their life to live, not mine. Yesterday brought me as much joy as the opposite end of the spectrum brings me sadness. This world is full of uncertainties; it's cursed with heartache. To witness love in its pure form, simple & beautiful, was a bright spot for me. To hear their vows, to know that even though they cannot fathom what those vows will mean 30 years from now, did my heart good. After all, that is why we take our vows.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the song & the lanterns

Sleepless… but for good reason. I can't go back to sleep because I cannot stop thinking about the precious ceremony I attended last night. My youngest daughter (Kristen) felt burdened to help her community. Step by step, she has spent her days this summer with an ever evolving project. It's called Emotion in Motion. She & her friends have constructed a wall from the debris of the tornado. One side is a chalk board, the other is a work of art.

This wall will travel around the community in hopes of helping people heal from the effects of the November 17th tornado which took our home & the homes of countless others. 3 lives were taken which were recognized last night, each with a beautiful lantern sent off in his/her honor. The evening was meaningful, a song was sung, tears were shed. I even saw clouds with silver linings.

At each stop, Kristen will invite people to share their stories. She will have a different question on the chalk board at each location. She wants to acknowledge that people are still hurting. She began the ceremony last night sharing her own story. She & her sister & brother in law wrote a song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Her former worship leader from her youth group days lead the song. It was quite beautiful. I was touched.

This is the first gathering I've attended since the awful storm. I just wasn't up to seeing a whole crowd of hurting neighbors all at once. I don't really understand, but it was too much for me. My husband & I relocated in a neighboring community. I miss my old neighborhood. I feel guilt almost daily for leaving. I love my new home, & it is a better fit for this stage of my life. I just feel I left a hurting community.

Seeing my old neighbors last night was bittersweet. Some of them are still so sad, & I hurt for them. Hugging them was the best part for me. They were good neighbors, the best neighbors, & in a sense, they watched my children grow up. They are a significant part of the Brown family, & nothing will ever change that.

As I watched my young adult daughter do her thing, I could only be thankful for the burden she felt. I am thankful for the conviction in her heart to be interviewed on TV. She is stepping way out of her box. She stood before a microphone & shared her story. The money she received for her losses from the tornado is what is funding this project. She has a multitude of kind friends who have helped. I was overwhelmed with kindness last night. The most meaningful parts for me: the song & the lanterns, and of course... the sunset.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It just doesn't make sense.

Sometimes things just don't make sense. Why would a man receive a medal of valor for serving his community only to be let go just one month later? No disciplinary action is needed. The reason cited for not renewing his contract is a difference in philosophies. From what I know, this man is a good man. He is well loved by his children, his grand children, paramedics, firefighters, friends, a community, & countless others. The town is recovering from an F4 tornado, & now their beloved fire chief who says he would give his right arm to stay is being let go.

A petition is circulating online. I want to encourage people to sign it. Why? Because when people stand up for another person, it can make a difference. On a much smaller scale, I was mistreated for reasons I will never fully understand. People were not made aware of the truth because my goal was to leave with grace. I did not want to cause dissension so I left this particular community quietly. Looking back, I believe if people had known the truth, the outcome would have been different. I don't regret my decision; I felt strongly that it was not my place to stir up trouble.

Being a victim of people in powerful positions who may be overstepping their bounds is painful for both the suffering community & for the man of valor. It creates a lose/lose situation. The community loses their man of valor, & the man of valor loses that for which he gave his life. People never really know what went on behind the scene. It just doesn't make sense.

I only have my gut feeling to go by. It is not always right. But for now, it smells a rat. I am willing to risk being wrong to support this kind man who invested himself fully in a suffering community. Tornado victims are still struggling. Delays are a daily part of life. Depression is real. Children cannot safely  play in their own yards. People are hurting, and now this community has one more reason to hurt. Go figure.

a club I never wanted to join...

Life has been a bit painful lately, emotionally speaking (not so much for myself but for people who are dear to my heart). Like I've said before, once you become a Cancer Survivor, you have more Survivor friends than friends who are not. This blog goes out to my fellow Survivors…

Saturday, I had one of the most meaningful afternoons of my life. My Pink Survivor Sisters (we wrote a book together) gave a baby shower for a young woman who miraculously is about to have a baby girl. We are so happy & excited for her. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Her cancer even had the nerve to come back! Well… against all odds, her due date is nearing the final stretch.

So… Saturday, we gathered in her honor, to celebrate life. We all agreed. We just couldn't really come up with the right words to describe the meaningfulness behind all of this. No, words just don't do this situation justice. As we visited, God began to open my eyes (yes right before my very eyes) to see the strength, the grace, the courage we all share. He opened my eyes to realize no matter how bleak our circumstances become, there's always Hope because He is present. He affirmed my beliefs. His grace really is sufficient.

One person in particular impacted me greatly Saturday. As I imagined her journey through this life, I suddenly knew that she was just what I needed. I needed a good dose of seeing God's grace in action. Walking life through her shoes is more than anyone could bear alone. But…through her faith, she still radiates the most kind, loving, & gentle Spirit. I am in awe! She is twice a cancer survivor. She lost her daughter to cancer. That to me is unbearable. She has other hardships too, but I will just leave it here for now.

This role model has the key to life. The only way to come through such deep wounds is to hold on tight to Christ. He has never forsaken me. It's all about surrender too.What a paradox. Hold on tight & yet surrender. How does one even begin to explain what that means? With breast cancer, I was indoctrinated into a club I never wanted to join. It's a club that doesn't take life lightly.

It's a club that understands when one doesn't have the words. It's a club that pulls for you, encourages you, & gives you Hope. This particular group of Survivors also shares the bond of faith in Christ. My friend, Elizabeth, messaged  me early on in my journey. She said that Breast Cancer is a strong bond but not as strong as the bond we share in Christ. Thank you to all my fellow Survivors who are teaching me by example how to walk this walk. Words are not enough! I thank God for being a part of this precious club!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's authenticity.

It's been a long time… Not because I haven't had the itch but because my mind has been swirling around in a storm. I've been processing life & coming to a few realizations. In my younger years, I think I defined courage as Superman. The thoughts of my favorite superhero rescuing me from my perils were enough for me. I didn't really take the time to ponder the meaning of courage much beyond my simple view.

In the last few years, courage has become a more meaningful word in my life. It's not about Superman any more (even though he remains my favorite). Nope… courage is sometimes silent. Courage is facing the truth even when it's ugly. It's letting go of our dirty little secrets. It's being accountable. It's consistency, being the same person regardless of the company we keep. Not leading a double life.

Courage is stepping into a place filled with memories (even when the flashbacks are painful) for the sake of righting a wrong. Courage is the miracle of having a baby even though you've twice been diagnosed with cancer & told it's the impossible. It's working on an Oncology floor when you yourself are a Survivor. Courage is being strong for your child who suffers.

Courage surrenders. Courage gives up the lies. It seeks the truth & faces it. Courage lives life amongst all the uncertainties & lives it abundantly. It's smiling through the pain & counting our blessings in times of deep sorrows. Sometimes courage suffers, but it suffers with grace. It's trusting that God has the whole picture & that there is eternal purpose in suffering.

Courage is holding on when things become unbearable. It's loving someone in spite of their failures. It mimics Christ. It seeks the truth. It lays down its life without guarantee. Courage asks for help. It walks through life with others. It's obedience without understanding. It's trust. It's forgiveness. It's seeing ourselves for who we really are. It's allowing God to reshape our hearts. It's vulnerability.  It's transparency. It authenticity.

Monday, June 16, 2014

We cannot see the happy ending.

I don't think I've ever felt so overwhelmed with heart ache for so many dear people all at once. Some of the despair is incomprehensible to the human heart. So many people are in desperate need of God's healing hand in their lives. I wish that children being sick was off limits. I wish it just wasn't allowed. The trauma is just too much for a child to bear & for his/her parents to watch.

When I was undergoing treatment, the worst part was watching my family suffer for me. I hated the stress my health caused them. The anguish was evident in their eyes. I felt like we were all learning a foreign language together. In fact, I felt like we were all on a boat with people who didn't speak our language. The information was above our heads. We couldn't understand or make sense of anything.

I believe I suffered from post traumatic for at least a year. Everything was surreal. Was this really me we were talking about. Were these precious tears being shed for me? How could I make this better? How could I make this go away? So overwhelmed. So helpless. So scared. I couldn't even say the words, "I have cancer" for 3 months. I couldn't talk to my best friends. I wanted to be isolated.

As I see others suffering, I find myself in despair. I've lived first hand the treasures found on this journey, yet I could never wish it on anyone. I've also lived first hand the fear, the loss, the pain. No…
I don't wish this on another soul. Once again, I feel helpless. I feel overwhelmed. I cry for them. I pray for them. This world is a sad place. It has joy & laughter, but deep down, it is full of hard ship & pain.

I understand why our world is so full of pain. I am thankful it is our temporary home. I know Heaven awaits all who believe. No more suffering. No more tears. However, it's hard to comprehend when we are hurting. We have earthly eyes, & I believe we only catch glimpses of Heaven on this earth. We are not allowed to see the whole picture. We cannot see the happy ending. We are stuck in today, & only through faith can we find the strength to face each day. Our only Hope is in the Lord.

The more I know, the less I know. The longer I live, the more heart ache I see. The more people I care for, the more I hurt. It's just the way it works. I believe the only way to find Hope is to surrender all to God. We must admit we have no control. We must admit we cannot survive on our own. We need God; we need each other.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Today, my blog comes from a sad place deep within my heart. To say I am angry at cancer is an understatement. To say I am angry that I walk this journey would be untrue. It's a strange twist. A few days ago, a dear friend died of cancer. He is a hero. He was a kind person; he persevered through more than anyone should have to endure. In the end, he passed into Heaven, & I know he is fully healed. Sadness: he leaves behind a beloved wife, a daughter, a sister, & others who already miss him dearly. Their lives forever changed.

A few days ago, another sweet soul underwent a double mastectomy. Through her, I relive my own double mastectomy (just a few short years ago). I know everyone grieves differently through this process. I pray for her throughout each day, but even though I walk this walk, I am unsure how to help. I understand each person is affected so differently. She knows I am here for her. I grieve for her. I cheer her on. I am so sad she too walks this walk. I wouldn't wish it on another soul (ever).

Last night I met with 3 of my dearest friends. 1/2 of us our Survivors. We share some common threads. I see how her treatments have worn her down. She is resilient, but she is human. It's emotionally too much for anyone. We talked about the effects of this illness on ourselves, out families, & the list continues into every facet of our lives. It is too much to bear. It is too much.

A few day ago, I met with a Survivor. I sensed she is still angry at her cancer. She has been robbed of much. It just isn't what she would choose. Who would? As I consider theses dear souls & their lives, I cannot help but notice one thing. Each of them is a kind person. None would intentionally hurt another soul. We were all caught off guard. Our lives forever changed.

I have to be honest… the changes are sobering. They invade every facet of our lives. I know my heart has been refined through this journey. My faith has deepened. My body is not the same. My anxiety has a few new issues upon which to fixate. I am forever shaken. No…I am not the same. My life will be filled with ongoing exams. I will await the results of a tumor marker test every 6 months for I don't know how long. There is no end in sight. That's just the life of a Survivor.

Yes… there is good in this. It forces me to fully surrender my life to Christ. He gives. He takes away. My days are numbered as are the days of each human being. Sometimes I dwell on  my unknowns but then I remind myself, it's all in God's hands. He is bigger than my unknowns. And so… I carry on, doing all I can to reach out to others, to share the need to eradicate this awful disease. I embrace each day (good or bad). I grieve for those who lose their loved ones. I grieve for those who walk this journey (& for those who hold their hands). It's cruel. it's heartless. It knows no bounds….

Monday, June 2, 2014

sad truth...

In all honesty, I have been wronged. In all honesty, I have wronged others (sometimes without even knowing it, but not always). My last blog talked about hurtful words. I wasn't talking about any hurt I've endured over the years. I wasn't talking about any hurt I've caused over the years. No… I was speaking of hurt endured by loved ones (dear friends who have recently been hurt).

A friend made a comment following my blog about forgiveness. I'm not pretending that forgiveness is easy. In the Bible it says we must forgive 70 X 7. Jesus talked a lot  about forgiveness (with good reason). Forgiveness is not a part of our  human nature because we have memories. I don't think we are called to forget. We are called to forgive. Without memories, forgiveness would be so much easier.

What happens if we fail to forgive? Sad truth… we allow ourselves to be held in bondage by the person who wronged us. We become bitter inside & allow the offender to rob us of our peace & joy. Sometimes forgiveness takes time. It takes prayer. It takes a  daily practice of giving the offender to God & depending on His grace for the ability to forgive. The Bible says we will be forgiven according to how we forgive others. Yikes!

So how do I forgive? First & foremost…I remind myself that God loves the offender every bit as much as He loves me. Period. Secondly, after a while, I get sick of my unforgiveness, & I tell God I want to forgive. I don't want to be held in bondage by another person for anything. I don't want to be robbed of one moment of joy. I don't want to carry an ounce of bitterness in my heart. I want peace & restoration in my relationships. If I cannot have restoration, I at least want peace within my own heart.

Sometimes, I have to apologize for my wrongs. If I am aware, I want to apologize. Sometimes I must forgive without receiving an apology. That's always the hardest. I don't consider forgiveness an option. I see it as a commandment, a part of obedience. We forgive because we have been forgiven of much. When I pause to think about Jesus dying for my sins, I want to apologize to Him. Some of my sins are mere thoughts. Sometimes they are words. Occasionally they are actions. A sin is a sin, & the only justification for it is Jesus Christ. Because He suffered & died on the cross, I am forgiven. It's that simple.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Sometimes I get carried away & say things I regret. Sometimes, I don't listen to my filter, & something slips out; maybe I crossed the line? Then there are those times when the human side of me rears it's human head & I knowingly say something I should not have said. Always followed by remorse & regret…

Lately, I have been told & witnessed (on one occasion), people saying ugly, hurtful things to other human beings. My mouth dropped open (figuratively), & my heart hurt for the recipients of those mean words. As I stood there stunned, I wondered if the authors of those words realized how bad they made themselves look. Ouch!

The sad part is… words come from the heart. "What comes out of the mouth is what is overflows in the heart. " So… when people are mean spirited, I believe they have a heart issue. I know that sometimes the truth hurts, & our words are painful, but not to hurt, only out of love to help another person grow or to mend a relationship. Or… maybe in the name of honesty. How you say something is as important what you say.

The problem is, once these words are uttered, they cannot be taken back. Apologies can be said & meant, but sadly, the words still remain in the head & heart of the recipient. We can forgive, but we cannot forget (try as we might). So… the damage is done. The words stick, the hurt embeds itself, & all the comfort in the world cannot erase those words.

If we look to others to find our wholeness, we will always be let down. Only in Christ can we find unconditional love, regardless of what we've said or done. I cannot fathom the hurt that some of my dear friends have embedded deep within their hearts. It breaks my heart, & I wish I could erase those words. The damage is done. Only through Christ will wholeness come. I grieve for you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

all wrapped in a day...

Yesterday was a day filled with so many unexpected emotions… I began my day with my Small Group (always my favorite day of the week). My dear friends kept me diverted from what lay ahead of me in just a few hours, my yearly appointment with my radiologist. I've come so far as I face each appointment I must endure. I know it's not normal, but I used to worry excessively over routine appointments for months in advance. How foolish! What a waste of joy & energy. I think it's called anxiety.

So… yesterday was my typical lovely Thursday morning. As the last person left my house, I knew it was time to head to my appointment. I picked up, & before I knew it, I was on my way. I parked in my same old parking spot where I always parked 2 years ago for treatment. I signed in & was greeted by 3 receptionists who remembered me & seemed so happy to see me. Wow! They have so many patients, how can they remember me?

I followed the nurse back when she called my name. She was new, & she was so kind. Immediately, I knew I was in good hands. It took awhile for the dr to get to me. After all, he's very busy, brilliant, & consistently kind. So as I sat on the exam table, I began to pray through the alphabet as I used to do when I had radiation. After the 3rd time, I just put my head on the pillow & relaxed.

Finally he came in (apologizing for my wait time). I asked him how he was, & he replied, "Well how I am depends on how you are." Pretty sweet, huh? As he carefully & thoroughly examined me, I felt 2 emotions. #1=relief. #2= unexpected fear. How did that fear creep in when I was doing so well? It took me aback & left me processing throughout the afternoon.

I texted my family with the good news. Still I felt shaken. Why? I still don't know. I think it's just all of the emotion that goes with this walk. I think it's a big reminder of the severity of my diagnosis. I try not to dwell there, but sometimes it slaps me in the face like cold water.

The day passed, & I still had these 2 emotion, gratefulness mixed with fear. As I approached Good Neighbor's Day with my youngest daughter, I ran into friend after friend. Hugs & smiles, laughter abounded! Then my middle daughter & husband arrived with my grand daughter. We sat under the tent sharing funnel cakes & Lily. It was  surreal.  These are moments I imagine, but this one crept up on me. This joy replaced my fear. This joy brought healing.  I picked up a hot fudge sundae on the way home & walked in the door feeling refreshed!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

to Gloria & LaVerne...

Today, I had some thoughts I'd like to share. They are not based on scripture; however, they are somewhat inspired by scripture, but I cannot say they are Biblical. They are just my thoughts. Perhaps they are true. One day, I believe I will know. Until then, I shall ponder…

I love thinking about Heaven. I know I've written about Heaven before, but today my mind stumbled on to an aspect of Heaven I never really considered in the past: relationship or friendship. Now, I know I've talked about my mom meeting up with my dad in Heaven. I've thought a lot about that & how wonderful that reunion would be.

But today… I was thinking more about my mom & her girlfriends. As a person ages, I believe one of the saddest things is watching their friends leave this earth. My mom loved her friends. She loved her cousin. I was thinking how on this earth our friends save our lives. They rescue us from sorrow. They hold our hands through tragedy.

They make us laugh. They cry with us. They rescue us from our ruins. They take us in. They attend doctor appointments with us. They call to check on us. I just cannot imagine my life without my friends. Whether it's a road trip, a lunch break, a phone call, or a fb connection... It could be a mission trip, a small group, a walk, a glass of tea, or a birthday card.

Whatever it is, as much joy as my friends bring me on this earth, I am wondering what it will be like to be with them in Heaven. Will our eyes connect? Will we laugh like we do on earth? Will our reunion in Heaven be so much more than it is on earth? If this is so…I'm overwhelmed. I believe it is. I believe our friends will continue to be a part of our Heavenly life (only it will be beyond anything we know on this earth).

So then my mind went back to thinking about my mom in Heaven with her dear friend, LaVerne & her cousin, Gloria. Of course my Dad, her brother, & her parents too. Suddenly, I was overjoyed thinking about the precious moments they must be sharing. Yes…I've always pictured them together in Heaven, but never with the magnitude of the perfection that comes with Heaven. I don't believe our earthly eyes can even fathom the beauty that awaits us.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Dear Team Sweet Potatas,

Together we raised $11217.74! Yes… that's 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents! I am beside myself! That's 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents that will go to research to eradicate breast cancer! My goal was $5000. God is full of good surprises, & so are you! Research has already saved my life & given so much life to many of my beloved friends.

None of us have a crystal ball. We don't know who will be next or if our own breast cancer will metastasize. We do know that research saves lives. If we are Survivors, we do know our lives have been saved. Some of us have been given more time,  time to raise our precious children, time to see our grandchildren, time to heal & even become pregnant. Time on earth is precious!

I believe we need to make the moments of our life count (that is for eternal value). It's the "little things" that give life meaning. It's just being present. It's spending time with loved ones. It's striving to heal the burdens of suffering souls. Maybe it's just brightening someone's day, planting flowers, taking a deep breath on a warm summer day. It might be an ice-cream with a friend. Whatever it is… research gives us time. Time gives precious moments. We Survivors thank all who have contributed to our cause, who have given us time.

For years I participated in The Race for The Cure with my young daughters (always with a lump in my throat). Little did I know I would one day walk for myself & so many dear sisters (that is Survivor Sisters). Little did I know my small contributions would help save my own life, would give me precious moments. Little did I know how important Susan G. Komen would one day be to me.

The day of diagnosis is the day you go into s surreal state of mind; post traumatic shock is on it's way. You are bombarded with so much, you cannot breathe. It's all a foreign language. You will never be the same. You are vulnerable. You feel isolated. Even though you are surrounded by people who love you, you are alone. Fear sets into your heart & your eyes. Courage becomes your motto. Hope becomes your stronghold. Faith becomes exceedingly more important than it was yesterday. "Second guessing" becomes your pass time. "What did I do to bring this on myself?"

It's a delicate set of circumstances. You will never be the same, but you will be better. You immediately become a Survivor. You have a sister ship with others. A kindred spirit is already in place. This bond is strong (but not stronger than your faith). People are there to help you, to love you, to take your hand & walk each tender step with you. People who care. They may not understand your specifics, but they are willing to try. Let them help.

Today I am speaking on behalf of my Survivor Sisters & myself… I'm just trying to give each participant, each person who contributed (whether financially, in prayer, or through kind words), a great big hug & a thank you. I never imagined my Team Sweet Potatas would raise 11 thousand 2 hundred 17 dollars & 17 cents (not in my wildest dreams). I know your donations were a sacrifice, a choice, a gift of love. I feel as though you have all wrapped your arms around me & shouted a great big "I love you!" Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

With sincerity & love,


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We all have troubles.

Seems like it's been awhile since I've blogged. I think it's because I'm sleeping better at night. Many of my blogs were written during the late night/early morning hours of sleeplessness. I am so thankful to be sleeping, but I do miss blogging. Some of you are probably relieved. Lol. I cannot credit anything other than Xanax for my sleep. I'm sorry I had to resort to sleep medication, but the accumulation of sleeplessness was causing my body great fatigue.

So I've been doing a lot of self evaluation lately… I don't like to dwell on self, but at the same time, how do we fine tune ourselves if we don't consider how to help ourselves? As you know, I've had lots of physical therapy, & I am sure that has contributed to some of my self-evaluation. I'll be honest, some of the physical therapy has been life changing for me, & some of it has just served to help me better understand my issues. Some things won't get better, so it will be up to me to deal with my troubles with a thankful attitude. Understanding them certainly helps. I believe living with them allows God to refine my heart if I let Him.

Whatever my troubles (which we all have troubles), I try to see them as opportunities to grow me as a person, deepen my faith, allow me to empathize with others, & the blessings continue. If I could go back 4 years in my life, there are some hardships I would ask to be spared & some I would say, it's okay…the treasures are worth the journey. Kinda weird, isn't it?

I find that the things in life that hurt relationships with people are the things I would ask to be spared. Fixing a broken relationship takes more work for me than all of my therapy put together. Being hurt by another person takes so much healing. Hurting another person causes so much guilt & sadness too. Sometimes, we are not even aware of the hurts we cause. Forgiveness is essential but so difficult because memories cannot be forgotten. If we could erase them, forgiveness would be so much easier! Still…we are called to forgive.

So as I walk through the last 4 years of my life, cause that is truly when a downhill spiral of hardships began, I kind of have a pecking order of my difficulties. Emotional pain from others & myself, I would like to erase & have a do over. I would like to walk through life without conflict with other souls. I have learned to always remember, God loves both individuals (one just as much as the other) when relationship turmoil takes hold.

As for my house being blown away, I mourn for Washington & its people. As for myself, I regret the stress it's put on my husband. Watching him agonize is painful. As for me, I have a few losses (like my mother's diary), I would reclaim if I could. But most of my losses from that vicious storm were only temporary, even before the winds blew. The storm just proved it. As we move forward, my blessings overflow. Holes left from material losses have been filled with far greater treasures like my 2 precious grandchildren.

As for my health… well. I have struggles; but my joy far outweighs any health problems. I don't know if that will always be the case. I sure hope so. If given a choice to remove breast cancer from my life's journey, here's the sobering (& weird) truth. I would remove it because of the suffering it has caused my family. I would remove it for the cloud it has put over our heads. However, I am a better person because of it, no doubt. I love my faith, & I love liven' right. That means right in the palm of God's hand. It's a daily, sometimes hourly, discipline to place myself in His hand, but life is so much better there. My false securities have been pulled out from under me. I know how fragile I am. I wouldn't trade this relationship for anything or anyone.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Just a big ol' bag of worries...

Tonight is a special night. It's a night to remember. It's a meaningful night. It's Pray for The Cure. When I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, there were so many uncertainties, & really, there still are. For some reason, I was denied a PET scan by our insurance. The hospital refused to let us pay for it out of our own pocket or with the help of friends & family. Nope, no PET scan for me.

Here's the truth. We didn't have time to fight it. My cancer was so aggressive, treatment began a week after my diagnosis. That would be chemo therapy, followed by radical surgery, & finally radiation which left me looking like I had been grilled. Needless to say, I have spent the last almost 3 years processing all of this. Since I was denied a PET scan, I never got an accurate diagnosis.

What I soon began to realize is this: an accurate diagnosis would have been too much for me to handle at that time in my life. About 6 mosnth down the road, my radiologist told me that statistically speaking, my case was probably much worse than I knew. Why? No PET scan. It was likely in more than 1 lymph node, but because I had my chemo before surgery, we will never know.

Unbeknownst to this kind man, I left his office that day in tears. Wow! It was as if I had been diagnosed for the first time. I had a lump in my throat so big, I couldn't speak. I had to reckon with the fact that it was worse than I knew, & I would never know how bad it was. So what is my prognosis? I really don't know.

As my mind began to settle, I began to realize that it was okay. It was okay if I never knew my reality because I rest in the mighty palm of God's hand. Yesterday is as close as tomorrow for Him. He has numbered my days, & only He knows that number. He is not caught off guard by any of this. I was. God is bigger than my unknown lymph node count. He is bigger than my unknown prognosis. He is bigger than all of my issues & worries combined & multiplied to infinity.

I rest in Him. He never forsakes me, & He takes time to whisper sweet words in my ear with His Still Small Voice. Without Him, I am nothing, just a big ol' bag of worries. With Him, I live joyfully & gratefully every day of my life. Without Him, I cannot breathe. He gives, & He takes away. I surrender all. Pray for The Cure is sacred. We survivors put our prayers together & acknowledge that He is in control.

What does that mean? Whatever our circumstances, He has our backs. We may not receive the news for which we hoped, but He is not surprised by any news we receive. "God makes everything beautiful in its time." His time may not be my time. His idea of beauty certainly can be different than mine. Although, I know we both love flowers, oceans, &  baby blue eyes. However, what I think (& this is just my opinion) is this...

I think what God loves most is a soft heart that trusts in Him when it is scared. He loves a heart that puts its faith in Him in spite of the unknowns. He loves when we know that He is bigger than our trials. He loves when we rest in Him. I rest only in Him.